The Economist suggests it's "untreatable"


Don’t miss two strong pieces from The Economist print edition on Venezuela.

One is in the op-ed Leaders section, and focuses on Chávez’s efforts to hide the extent of his illness. The money quote is a whopper:

“He has said that he had an operation in Cuba in June to remove a lump from his pelvic area; he insists that, after four sessions of chemotherapy, he has been cured. But he refuses to reveal what kind of cancer he had, nor have any of his doctors appeared in public to offer a prognosis. The obvious inference is that the problem may be more serious than he is letting on. Some foreign intelligence sources suggest that Mr Chávez has an untreatable sarcoma.”

More impresive even is the article that discusses Chávez’s recent personnel changes. On the concentration of power in Godgiven Hair’s hands, it says:

“By putting the party machine in the hands of Mr Cabello, Mr Chávez has signalled his reliance on the military wing of his movement. Mr Cabello’s army contemporaries have risen to be generals or senior colonels, holding key troop commands. Nobody, not even the president, understands politics, the armed forces and the business world, and the way they interact, better than Mr Cabello. That makes him both a crucial ally and also a potential threat to Mr Chávez.

For that reason, he may not be allowed to take over from Mr Jaua as vice-president, nor to fulfil a longstanding ambition to replace Rafael Ramírez, who is both energy minister and boss of the state oil monopoly, Petróleos de Venezuela, with a nominee of his own.”

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  1. Like a vulture circling a carcas, Cabello made a vigorous return to his high media profile during the early stages of Chavez’ illness. And more recently his appointment as Head of the National Assembly was almost like a presidential coronation.

    Chavez has been trying to cut him down to size since 2002, but has never quite succeeded. Wangling his way back in to the top tier ahead of the elections suggests Chavez may have given up.

    • Diosdado is just an intelligent and competent son of a b…. that happens to have managed to survive by repeatedly expressing his allegiance to Chavez despite the differences they had in the past. Chavez never wanted anybody around that could stand on his/her own merits, so he ended up surrounded with spineless people with no merits or intelligence (Maduro, Flores, Jaua, El-Aisami, among many others are good examples). He only wants to hear “yes sir”. The problem is that Chavez ran out of competent people and because of the pathetic incompetence of his subordinates his government is crumbling wherever you look. At this time he needs Diosdado more than Diosdado needs him, so he was pretty much forced to put him in charge of both the party and the National Assembly.

  2. Hi! This is completely off-topic but I hope you can help me out on this one! I’ve been a huge admirer of CaracasChronicles for a long time, not just of the posts displayed on it but also on all the comments written here, I usually spend several hours reading CC + Economist + Techblogs everyday. Last year I went to MN, USA as a (high school) exchange student and I’m currently studying Production Engineering at USB. Since I arrived I’ve been desperate to find something really cool I could get my hands dirty on. I’m looking forward to do some volunteering or work that involves speaking English and meeting lots of interesting people I could learn from. If somebody can pitch me something I’ll very much appreciate it. Thank you! nelsonfernandezv

  3. Headline: “Chavez plans re-election even if he’s dead.” The combination of Diosdado as head of AN and Rangel as Defense Minister present a great obstacle to any Chavismo internal opposition. Will it do the same for the external opposition?
    On other news, Rangel is in the same class as Manual Noriega as far as the US goes. Maybe Venezuela will be invaded after all and the US will surround Rangel with tanks and blare rock music………or reggaeton until he yells “Tio.” (sorry to give away my age but I remember that!)

  4. Virtok… I agree.

    When Chavez was first elected his circle included some very “respectable” politicians and such. Whether they were left wing or right doesn’t matter. The point is that as time has passed Chavez’s insecurities has forced him to continually reject and distance himself from the people that actually put him there and surround himself with people that have no merit other than loyalty. He has to appear to be the smartest or best in the room. He has to be able to feel like he is talking down to you! Now look at his following….the lower class with lack of formal education/intelligence….so that he can ramble about cancer producing weapons…..and guess what? They believe him. Now also take a look at his political alliances in Venezuela….who are they? What have they ever accomplished? Have you heard of any of them prior to their appointments? Well maybe some of them for crimes or corruption they committed. He will continue to weed out anyone that makes him feel less powerful or smart.

    He cannot do that with Diosdado or Rangel yet…he needs them to do his dirty work now. But both should beware after he has gotten what he needs….another 6 years.

  5. The gist of the article is that differently from every Latin American leader (Castro excepted), Hugo Chavez has managed his illness as a State Secret. Thus, we really don’t know anything for certain about Hugo Chavez’s abdominal health.

    What the illness has revealed however is that his mental condition is largely untreatable. That not even facing his own mortality can work the miracle. Of a moderate Chavez with which Venezuelans can coexist in a dignified manner.

    There was a hope in the air that he and chavismo would take a path of relative moderation, as they replaced their motto of war, slavery and death-wish. Na-nay. That they would release some political prisoners who are ill as a sign of empathy. Na-nay. That he would scale down his smothering public presence, make chavismo become more institutional than Chavez-centered and allow some internal dissidence. Na-nay.

    Really, the best he can do is to be really sick, to help allay the worst of Venezuela’s own mental sickness. The best the opposition can do is to regardless, campaign as hard as it goes, to be rid of him, sick or not, dead or alive.

    • You are so right. This week was “all Chavez”-big, front page -crazy-but
      front-page news every day practically.
      THe only thing I remember from opposition was-Lopez questioning the
      upcoming visit of Iranian Ahmadinajob and why does Venezuela deal with Iran?
      That was very big and a few newspapers even commented on this too..
      In reality I personally consider it another “bad week” for Chavez -showing how
      completely insane he is. But, “el pueblo” thinks and sees differently I am sure.


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